Kerrygold faces US lawsuit over ‘grass-fed cows’ claim

Class-action suit filed in California alleges ‘false advertising’ by firm

Kerrygold is the second-best-selling butter brand in the US, where it grew 21% last year.

Kerrygold is the second-best-selling butter brand in the US, where it grew 21% last year.

 

Kerrygold, Ireland’s best-known global food brand, is facing a class-action lawsuit in the United States over its marketing claim that Irish dairy cows whose milk makes the butter are fed on grass.

A San Diego-based real-estate executive has filed the case in California against Ornua, formerly the Irish Dairy Board, the co-operative that owns the brand.

Dyami Myers-Taylor accuses Kerrygold of “false and misleading advertising”. He says Irish cows are not exclusively grass-fed because they often eat other materials, such as grain or soya, when weather is bad and there is no grass to eat. He also claims some of these feeds can be genetically modified.

Mr Myers-Taylor claims he would never have bought Kerrygold if had known Irish cows are not exclusively grass-fed, and warned that the case could affect thousands of US consumers.

Kerrygold is the second-best selling butter brand in the US, where it grew 21 per cent last year. It has developed a cult following from the “grass-fed cows” claim that dominates its television advertising.

Celebrities such as Martha Stewart and Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker are among those to have plugged the brand.

Ketogenic diets

In the US, dairy cows are generally not grass-fed, which explains US butter’s paleness compared with the yellower Irish variety. Butter, especially from grass-fed cows, is back in vogue as part of high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets.

“We believe our products are marketed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and will vigorously defend claims which propose otherwise,” said Ornua.

Ireland experienced a fodder crisis last winter due to bad weather, and farmers have warned the Government that the ongoing heatwave will precipitate another crisis this winter.

Simon Coveney, when Minister for Agriculture in 2011, warned that some imported fodder could introduce genetically-modified feeds into the food chain.